SOME DAYS AGO I spoke to the former Finance Minister and Prime Minister of Canada, Paul Martin, who in 1995 tabled the federal budget balancing Canada’s books. It’s become an established (and easily falsifiable) political cliché that Liberals tax and spend whilst Conservatives tidy the fiscal house. Speaking to Mr. Martin, I was reminded of the conspiracy theory that Reagan had tripled the US deficit in order to undermine the welfare state. Well, some thought it a conspiracy theory — and then David Stockman, the Office of Management and Budget Director, confirmed the supply side ruse.
OVER THE PAST few years I’ve had some off-the-record discussions with senior federal bureaucrats and politicians, folks who are in a position to know of what they speak. In such company the prospect of the politically practicable invariably rises to the river’s surface, through implication or, more often, inferences. Here the word “inference” alludes to the immovable fact that even in those cases where the spirit is willing, the flesh is bound to cabinet confidence and other such protocols of discretion. Hearing what I’ve heard, and seeing what I’ve seen, I’m not at all surprised by the outcome of the recent Crown-First Nation Gathering in Ottawa.
I now have unchallengeable objective proof that I’ve lived too long in Ottawa, and it’s this: I caught myself today wondering how the bureaucrats are going to say the new acronym AANDC, the stand-in for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. For over a century, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (known also as the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs) was Diane or Diand, or even at times Diana. Now I imagine it will be Andy or Andick, both of which lead me unavoidably to the conclusion that gender reassignment has taken place and The Man now really is that.
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